Turkey's interest-rate lobby questions lingering

Turkey's interest-rate lobby questions lingering

Turkeys interest-rate lobby questions lingering

TÜSİAD head Muharrem Yılmaz says he doesn’t understand the term. AA photo

The public has been seeking the answer to who the interest-rate lobby that Turkish Prime Minister blames for provoking the Gezi Park protests is, but even the government’s top economic figures and the country’s leading business people seem unable to reach a consensus on who this mysterious group of people is that has the power to mobilize thousands of people to march against government.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been slamming the interest-rate lobby every time he speaks about the protests, holding them responsible for causing volatility in financial markets by causing social unrest and has vowed to stop them.

While it’s clear that the prime minister is talking about investors who want higher rates, which specific group of investors he might be referring to is speculated on.

Asked about the interest-rate lobby, Muharrem Yılmaz, the chairman of the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD), said June 11 that he had problems understanding the term, as “interest lobby” has the same connotation as the term “pressure lobby” in the English language.

He said he struggled to understand because anyone that normally earns income though interest rates would hurt in today’s environment – with the ongoing clashes and political tension.

“The ones holding treasury bonds to yield interest have lost income. The ones that have invested in interest rates by selling foreign currency have been losing money,” Yılmaz said. “Nobody’s benefiting from this.”

Meanwhile Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek said speculators came to mind when talking about the interest-rate lobby.“There are factions that are trying to benefit from countries’ situations like this,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan spoke even more obscurely. “The interest-rate lobby knows who they are.”